Widespread drug and alcohol addiction is an alarming problem in Northern Illinois and throughout the country.  It is estimated that 20.4 million adults suffered from substance use disorder in 2019 and over 70,000 individuals died from a drug overdose. Drug addiction destroys careers, fractures families, and creates a heavy burden on the U.S. criminal justice system. Criminal penalties for drug possession often include heavy penalties and long prison sentences. Proponents of House Bill 3447 say that individuals who are addicted to illicit drugs need treatment, not jail time.

Criminal Consequences for Drug Possession in Illinois

Most people know at least one person in their life who struggles with drug addiction. Many individuals who are addicted to substances wish to cease using the drug but find themselves unable to do so. Individuals who are caught with certain drugs may face life-changing criminal penalties including years or even decades in jail. Those convicted of drug-related offenses may find it nearly impossible to gain suitable employment and lead a lawful life after getting released.

Currently, possession of any amount of heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, or morphine is a felony offense in Illinois. The greater the amount of the substance in an individual’s possession, the more severe the consequences. For example, possession of less than 15 grams of heroin is a Class 4 felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison. Possession of more than 15 grams of heroin is a Class 1 felony punishable by 4 to 50 years in prison.

Bill Would Lower Penalties for Possession of Small Amounts of Some Drugs

House Bill 3447 was recently passed by the Illinois House Judiciary Criminal Committee. If the bill becomes law, it would lower the penalties for possession of small amounts of certain drugs. Possession of less than three grams of heroin would be a Class A misdemeanor instead of a felony offense. Penalties for possession of less than three grams of fentanyl or less than five grams of cocaine would also be reduced. Supporters of the proposed legislation say that heavy prison sentences are not decreasing the incidence of drug abuse in Illinois. Critics worry that lowering the criminal penalties associated with dangerous drugs will disincentivize individuals from getting the help they need to recover from their addiction.

Contact a DuPage County Drug Defense Lawyer

Drug possession can lead to felony criminal charges and significant jail time. If you or a loved one has been charged with a drug-related offense in Illinois, you need an aggressive legal advocate on your side. Contact an experienced Itasca criminal defense attorney from Ana M. Mencini & Associates, P.C. Call our office at 630-875-1700 for a confidential consultation.

Source:

https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt29393/2019NSDUHFFRPDFWHTML/2019NSDUHFFR1PDFW090120.pdf

https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates

https://www.sj-r.com/story/news/2021/03/23/illinois-house-proposal-lower-drug-penalties-advances/6966834002/

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